The medication used in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia is called a tyrosine-kinase inhibitor (TKI). Treatment of CML usually starts with the TKI imatinib (Glivec). Because this medicine has good results and little risk of serious side effects, it is a good product to start with. Also, imatinib is no longer as expensive as the other TKIs.
Switching to the next TKI
If imatinib stops being effective (enough), the next step is to switch to another TKI, for instance, nilotinib (Tasigna) or dasatinib (Sprycel). Switching is also possible if the product works well but causes too many symptoms. That is why it is important that you always discuss symptoms or side effects with your treating physician. There are two more specific agents that can be selected, bosutinib (Bosulif) or ponatinib (Iclusig).
The same medicine, different packaging?
Now that Glivec imatinib for the treatment of CML is no longer patented, other pharmaceutical producers are also allowed to produce imatinib. This is called generic imatinib. With a generic medicine, the active substance is of the same chemical composition as the original medicine. It is not a biosimilar, where the active substance has the same effect as the original agent but does not have to be the same chemically. So, it could be said that the generic imatinib is the same as Glivec imatinib. What may be different, however, are the excipients, i.e. the substances used to form a pill and to ensure that the imatinib can be absorbed into the body. This can cause people to have different experiences when switching to a generic drug. These usually subside after a while, but you should always consult your treating physician. An important reason to switch to generic imatinib is the price of the product. Generic medication is usually much cheaper. In this case, it is only 5% of the original price.